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Democratic Debate to Feature Voter Questions Via Internet

Campaigning by Democratic candidates ground to a halt Monday as their focus shifted to preparing for the first presidential debate in which the questions are posed by members of public via Internet videos.

The two-hour debate, which begins at 7 p.m. EDT, is sponsored by YouTube, Google and CNN and is the first presidential debate of the 2008 race sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. CNN editors will select questions from personal videos delivered to YouTube, where some of the submitted videos were already posted.

"What will you do to end the spread of check centers and stop predatory lending in low-income neighborhoods?" asks one man standing in front of a check-cashing center in Oakland, Calif. He explains that he's concerned that "mainstream" banks are leaving inner city neighborhoods, forcing residents to rely on more expensive alternatives.

The debate will be held at The Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C.

"We're making history with this debate," Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa says in his own video posted on the school's Web site. "For the first time you'll be able to submit questions through YouTube directly to the candidates. Technology is changing the way we do business in our lives every day and it's certainly going to change the way we elect public officials."

A Republican debate is scheduled for Sept. 17.

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